QWhat was the first garment you ever made?
AGlass-bead applique tulle genie costume with gold lame that I designed at age five for Rio's carnival.
QWhat's playing on your iPod when you're designing?
ASparks, Sol Seppy, Arcade Fire, Astor Piazzola, Joan as Policewoman, Mos Def, sometimes just NPR.
QWhen did you realize you had designer potential?
AI've always had a sense of belonging with fashion design. I feel most at ease when working with fabrics and sketching.
AJean Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Madeline Vionnet, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Claire McCardell, Rodarte.
QCan you describe past jobs you've had?
ACustom tailor and pattern maker, design apprentice in making leather and lace garments.
QWhat is a fashion must?
AGreat black shoes that can be dressed up or down.
QWhat is your design training?
AAssociate's degree in fashion design from FIDM, San Francisco; three-year apprenticeship with custom leather and bridal design studio.
QHave you won any awards related to design?
AWas nominated for an Ecco Domani award while working at CLIFT NYC 2005 or 2006.
QWhat are your strengths as a designer?
ADraping, concept, problem-solving, leading a team.
QWhat are your weaknesses as a designer?
AMaking dresses too short.
QWhat's influenced your designs over the years?
AVanessa Beecroft, Egon Schiele, urban street people-watching.
QWhat's your favorite material or fabric to work with?
QWhat's the item you're most proud of designing?
AI like them all.
QDo you prefer sketching or draping?
ABoth are essential.
QDo you prefer patterns or solids?
QWhat are your favorite colors?
AGray, black, fuchsia.
QWhat's your biggest fear as a designer?
AThat I'll never have my own collection or own a boutique.
QWhat fashion faux pas drives you crazy?
AWearing tights as if they're leggings.
QWhat's the ugliest thing you've ever worn?
AChartreuse faux fur arm shrug (remember those sleeves?).
QWho are your favorite style icons?
ADon't have one.
QIf you designed for the first lady, what would you design for her?
AHer entire wardrobe. Or maybe a resort wardrobe, complete with lingerie.
QWhat celebrity would you like to design for?
AMarion Cotillard. A draped gown for the Festival de Cannes.
QWho's your supermodel muse?
QWhat do you look for in a model?
AConfidence, amazing body, kick-ass walk, attitude. (a look can be molded, a personality cannot).
QIf you had to name your label, you'd call it . . .
ASerena da Conceicao.
QIf you weren't designing, you'd be . . .
QDream place to set up your design business?
ANew York first, then Paris and Tokyo.
QAny other cultures or places you wish you could design for?
QWebsites that feature your work, including your own site(s)?
QHow were you described as a kid?
AFriendly, creative, outgoing, thoughtful, tattletale.
QHow are you described now?
AOutgoing, blunt, silly, bossy, hardworking, happy and confident.
QCan you describe your family?
AHonest, varied, free-loving, either spiritual or atheist.
QMarriage or kids?
AEngaged, no kids.
QDo you have any nicknames?
AEsssface (first letter of my name; not sure why "face" was added), Esss (first letter of my name), Bossy (obvious).
QWhat's your favorite hangout back home?
AMy house, with a dozen friends over for dinner and cocktails.
QWhat are your hobbies besides designing?
ARiding bikes, people-watching, reading, photography, blogging for New York Times Fort Greene blog.
QWhat are your favorite movies and TV shows?
AMovies: Queen Elizabeth, Hilary and Jackie, Rear Window, Volver, Biutiful. TV: Project Runway, America's Next Top Model, Charlie Rose.
QWhat are your favorite websites?
Awwd.com, style.com, gilt.com, nytimes.com
QWhat are your favorite books and authors?
AMilan Kundera, James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, Haruki Murakami.
QiPhone, Android or BlackBerry?
QFast food or gourmet?
QCooking or takeout?
AUsually takeout, but only because I don't have time. Prefer home cooking.
ACapers! Caesar salad, Trout almondine, Pupusa, fresh plums, New England clam chowder, a perfect steak, arugula with reggiano.
QBeer or wine?
AEating entire chocolate bars in one sitting.
QBiggest pet peeve?
APeople who stand at the tops/bottoms of stairs or on street corners. You don't realize you just MIGHT be in the way?
QFavorite designer from past seasons of Project Runway?
AMondo, Korto, Christian Siriano, Seth Aaron.
QProject Runway challenge you hope they bring back for your season?
AMagazine cover challenges. Or recreating wedding dress challenge.
QProject Runway challenge you hope they don't bring back?
AGrocery store challenge or any other store challenges (hardware, party, etc.).
QYour take on team challenges ... love them or hate them?
ANeutral, really. Understand the importance but is the show really about teams winning?
QHow did you end up auditioning for Project Runway?
A"I sent in a video and application. I also auditioned for the first season."
QWhy do you think you will win Project Runway?
AI have the drive, stamina, smarts and talent, plus I love the challenge.